Archive for 'Blog'

Advice on Changing the World


Starting your pursuit to change the world  is the hardest part. Finding others with your level of passion is also the hard part. A mission, a vision, and goals are also difficult to choose. If you’ve stopped and thrown away your idea that means it’s not worth it to you.  Building a better world isn’t glamorous, cheap, sexy, easy, or greasy. Plainly stated, it will not give you sex appeal.  It’s hard work, challenge, and triumph. Triumph, that’s the fun part.


-Paul Ayo

Moonlighter’s Mindstate

Moonlighter's Mindstate cover art

The way to connect dreams to action is very simple. The person dreams and simply does. This is easier said than done, but the concept works, and one can’t poke many holes in such a simple plan.

For the artist, the problem can take a much more complex turn. There are bills to pay, children to feed, personal hang-ups to overcome, and a challenge that teems with pessimism. “I can’t do it. I don’t really believe in myself. I can’t find a way to make this widget or convince an audience that my plan is brilliant.” This is what pessimism sounds like. It’s not something we want to hear or embrace. It drives a wedge between us and what we intend to accomplish.

The solution lies in finding a way to establish your art slowly. A quick rise may occur, but more often than not, slow and steady will win the race.

This artist found a way to produce what he loved and pay his bills. Instead of moonlighting with distractions he chose to moonlight with his passion. I’m sure you’re passionate about something, but are you moonlighting enough?

by Paul Ayo

Am I Leader?


The trouble with this question is doubt. You never doubt whether you’re starting your car or if you’re applying the brake to stop at a red light. You never think about it, you just do it.

You also have your anti-leaders. You know, people that challenge leaders, because their favorite past-time is finding mistakes in others. Anti-leaders never lead, and they shy away from honest sincere art. Anti-leaders steal emotional labor or prevent it from taking place.  They undermine, cause conflict, breed contempt, and use information as a tool of destruction, not human connection.

The challenge for the artist is leading and meeting anti-leaders head-on. Dealing with the greedy, the contemptible, and the cut-throats that so many of us work with when we should work against them.

Leaders and artists should develop an infrastructure that protects their mission, furthers their focus, and accomplishes their goals. The anti-leader will be the first to challenge this notion and not offer any advice about fixing the problem they’ve created with your goals.

For all the leaders, artists, activists… I think the better question is. Am I afraid to challenge, outwit, and take-on bullies with art?

Milledgeville Artz Benefit Concert


In an effort to stage big events that generate a big impact for our community, A.A.C. is proud to present the Milledgeville Artz Benefit Concert. The concert will take place at 8pm Saturday August 18, 2012 at Buffington’s in Milledgeville, GA.

We’ll be featuring three phenomenal acts (details below) and all the proceeds will help support two brand-spanking new Artz programs in Milledgeville, GA.

Program Details

During the summer of 2012, A.A.C. established a partnership with the Milledgeville Housing Authority and Baldwin Family Connection to present Artz Jamz. The program will connect members of Georgia College’s DNSTP Chapter of Art as Agent for Change with local youth from the Baldwin County area in weekend visual arts workshops.

A portion of the proceeds will also help support Baldwin County High School’s Youth Poetry Collective. The team won last year’s Middle Georgia Youth Poetry Slam and is in need of books that will help them better study the art of poetry and build connections between the world of literature and the world in which they live.

The Artz Benefit Concert is all about deepening the impact of our passion to create a better world. Our fundraising goal for the concert is modestly set at $1,000.  We aim to exceed this goal. You can make a donation via paypal here or on the night of the show. Every contribution counts.

Admission: No Cover (Donations Accepted)

Bring extra $$$ for our raffle

Music Starts at 8pm

If you’d like to volunteer for either program, click here


The Last Tycoon


The Last Tycoon is the new band and musical project by songwriter and guitarist John Gladwin. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee in the spring of 2009 with producer Tyler Welton, the album blends diverse instrumentation with crafted songwriting for a truly unique sound. The album is filled with haunting images of the American South inside songs that seem to be lost in time. Originally from rural Arkansas, he learned how to play music in the honky-tonks and churches that lie along the Arkansas River. At eighteen, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he played in clubs and concert halls while exploring the history of American roots and country music. John has toured across North America and Europe both with the band and as a solo artist. He recently moved to Stockholm, Sweden and is hitting the road across Europe in support of The Last Tycoon.


Kyshona Armstrong



With her roots in South Carolina and her feet grounded in Athens, GA, Kyshona Armstrong has set off on the road of full time touring artist this past year. Independently releasing her third Album, Home Again, Kyshona has armed herself with guitar and bags to play anywhere from the bayous of Louisiana to the Minnesota Red River Valley.

“Her voice is clear and hefty, carrying a weight of fortitude that smacks through the psyche and into the gut, filling the belly with a soul-stirring resonance.”-Flagpole Magazine.

“…soul-stirring, hand-clapping and foot-stomping music is what Kyshona Armstrong gives the crowd”- Brittney Holmes, Red and Black Magazine

“Heavily influenced by the blend of bluegrass, folk, gospel and country music that played in her home as a child, Armstrong’s songwriting meshes harmonies and melodies across musical borders, unafraid to abandon conventional styles for the sake of an individualized creative process.” – Anna F. Hall, Music Journalist


Mayview Road

Click the Photo for a preview


Getting its name from the road in Sandersville, GA, Mayview Road is a gathering “place” – for musicians, songwriters, friends, and genuine folks who all share a love of good music. “We’re just improvisin’…” The band is comprised of long time A.A.C. supporters Ed and  Tori Averett along with their assembly of great musical talent.

Come out and support the Artz in Milledgeville August 18th 2012 at Buffington’s in Milledgeville, GA. See our Calendar for all the details.

Fans, Friends, and Folks: How to Identify Your Supporters


When beginning the artist journey to forge human connections that make a difference in our world, identifying your fans, friends, and folks is just as important as developing a remarkable mission. Classifying the types of people that support your mission will enable you to better manage your human resources. It’s important to note that these categories aren’t mutually exclusive and some people will either be a friend, fan, or folk on a varying basis.


Fans are supporters who attend events and support your cause occasionally. Fans generate a buzz about your cause and can make your organization a household name. This category usually encompasses the vast majority of people who support your endeavors and they are an extremely valuable portion part of your base. Without fans your volunteer projects, special events, and fundraisers would fall flat on their face. Fans also tell their friends about your cause and generate leads back to your organization. Building a fan base is an important part of generating awareness and an impact with your endeavors.


Your friends are the people who support your cause, make donations, may attend events, and they’ll tell others about what you do. These folks won’t come to every meeting and they won’t be at every rally, but they’ll support you and your cause when they have time and can make a commitment to help. This group is small than your fan base but includes local businesses, good politicians, university professors, other organizers, and people with resources that you may need to deepen the impact of your programming. Having lots of good friends is essential to the effectiveness of any grassroots movement.


This is a small and highly specialized group of individuals that support your cause. These people usually make up the staff of your organization. This group represents the adamant supporters who champion the mission of your organization no matter where they go. Use this group wisely.  Their talents vary and organizing this group into a lean-mean-mission-fulfilling-machine can be challenge. A good leader will meet the challenge of getting this group headed in the right direction.   A great leader gets this group moving  and then gets out of their way, so everyone can work towards the greater good.


Some people will remain within the confines one of these groups, other people won’t. It’s important to note, life is a cross-section of many experiences and human beings are inconsistent little buggers, but your movement,  your fans, your friends, and your folks are inspired by your consistency.

A. Friend for Change
B. Volunteer for Change
C. Advocate for Change
D. Agent for Change

Being an Artist and Activist: 12 Things you should know

I’ve worked with plenty of artists who use their talents for the good of the community, and I’ve founded a nonprofit organization that’s sole purpose is helping arts-activists build more effective programming. I’m sure this list is longer, and maybe, I left something out, but I want to share a few of the procedures I live by when using my art for truth, justice, and the Art-Activist’s way.

1. Broadcast Yourself.

The important part of being an artist is telling the story of your painting, your song, your mural, your sculpture, and your efforts. It’s cool to help, volunteer, serve, sacrifice, and make a difference. Your difference is then magnified exponentially when you’re willing to tell your story and build connections with anyone searching for an the inspirations, idea, or model to build a sustainable impact in their community

2. We’ve been conditioned to be factory workers. Innovate.

Our imaginations are the most active when we are younger, and the older we get, the more we’ve been conditioned to settle for safe, secure, fast, cheap, easy, and greasy. Our art, or our best art, isn’t the product of an assembly line or cheap, easy labor. It sparks from the desire to innovate and create new, amazing, unexpected, remarkable, significant, Art. Innovation isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s making the wheel better, brighter, less rubbery, filled with plants, or recyclable.

3. Use your brilliance wisely.

Being brilliant is hard work. If it weren’t, brilliance wouldn’t be held in such high regard, it would be mundane. Likewise, being brilliant every day is exhausting. Intentionally pick the day you will unveil your masterpiece and deepen the impact of the unveiling by broadcasting the story.

4. Organize.

Organization isn’t a prerequisite for art, but it is essential to deepening the impact of Art that aims at the social uplift of our communities. The secret to organizing anything is making sure the components of the project, team, committee, cabal, or task force has a place and a role in the project outcome. If it’s not essential, remove it. If it’s essential, connect it to the bigger picture. If you don’t have a big picture to connect all your dots, draw one. And if you can’t, find someone who can.

5. Learn everything you can about marketing.

Marketing is the key to amplifying every aspect of your story as an artist. I read this and I attend lots of webinars from these guys. Search the internetz and become an expert or generalist.

6. Find the 10 people that like you and your cause.

Often, we spend too much time with the people that don’t like us. We focus on the people who will never like what we do and how we do it, so the people who do like us never receive an invite or better art because we’re caught in gaining the attention of an outlier. The 10 people who like you will tell their friends. The people who don’t won’t tell anyone. Focus on your friends, fans, and folks. Don’t market to your enemies. They don’t like you now, don’t waste your time trying to make them like you.

7. Don’t work on an island.

Too often, artists-activists work alone on projects and are too busy or stretched too thin to build relationships with other folks with talents and skills who share the same passion. Identifying the friends, fans, and folks who support your cause is essential to effectively using your passion to create an impact in your community. For instance, you may have a friend who likes writing. They can create a blog for your cause. You may have a fan who owns an art gallery. One of your folks maybe a musician who wants to help you fundraise. You never know how a supporter can help. Don’t be afraid to ask and never work alone on a project. If you have to work alone to start things off, that’s understandable, but work towards working with others.

8. Evaluate your progress.

If you don’t evaluate your progress you’ll never recognize your growth, your talents, or see the big picture or reality of what your  passion for the arts can create. Ignorance is not bliss for the artist with the betterment of the entire world at stake. We use a personally tailored version of these evaluations.

9. Set and track your goals.

Set your goals and meet them head on. Evaluations and tracking are pretty much married. Don’t divorce the two. Goals are important because they create clear targets for your art. Without a clear target, you might as well create brilliant art climb to the tallest building and let it fly. Where it lands, nobody cares, but if you have somewhere for your art to do what it’s intended to do, make sure you set a goal of getting it there.

10. Learn about the people you’re trying to serve.

Oftentimes we try to serve groups we know nothing about. For instance venturing into the inner-city and endeavoring to save the community, but knowing nothing about the history and reality of the people you are trying to serve. Learning about the people you aim to support. This will help you create art and activism that means the most to the people that it helps the most.

11. Don’t wait for permission.

If I were waiting for someone else to ok my founding of Art as an Agent for Change, Inc., I’d still be at the drawing board, waiting. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, Oftentimes, “wait,” means never.  Take the initiative and build your vision for a better world with the friends, fans, and folks who are near and dear to you.

12. Always Shut-it-Down!

You asked us to hold a sign that you painted. You asked us to recite a poem on a soap box in a public area, you asked us to help you register voters, and you asked us to help you create a mural. Alongside you, we did something to make a difference. And whenever you do something to make a difference, remember, it is your act of expression that will begin the end of oppression and isms that disjoint world. Always do your best, no matter what it is you are doing, always Shut-it-Down!


Please, Comment, Share, Like, Subscribe, GoodSearch, or Donate. Everything you do counts.


By Paul Ayo

Visions of MLK Celebration

During MLK Weekend 2012 A.A.C. had the opportunity to visit the Visions of MLK celebration at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, GA. The event was coordinated by Montu Miller of Athens,GA and the line-up featured an amazing line-up of gospel singers, hip-hop artists, dancers, and poets.

A.A.C. made the trip to Athens because one of Paul Ayo’s poems is being featured in the Visions of MLK Art Exhibit. The work is titled “Melanin in the Sun and the graphic design was handled by Natalie Sharp. We were proud that one of our pieces made it into the exhibit.

Artist Statements

The visual arts piece “Melanin in the Sun” is a collaboration between my colleague Paul Ayo and me—he wrote the poem contained therein, and I created the image. I wanted to evoke in viewers some of the same emotions that I’ve felt watching him perform the piece—hope, a sense of urgency, and most importantly, a desire for social change. I employ the visual idea of the mountain as an allusion not only to some of Dr. King’s own imagery, but also to suggest that humans of all walks of life can surmount adversity with an arsenal of words, of knowledge, of determination to never “choose sleep over action.”

-Natalie Sharp

When I work with poetry I am reminded that the remarkable parts of our lives manifest in moments that desire to pass unnoticed. Oftentimes, we easily forget the importance of our skin or the air, but if someone takes a moment to emphasize what we take for granted, we find glory in the mundane and obscure. I wrote “Melanin in the Sun” at a time when I was reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” I mixed the poem with a little Hughes, Hansbury, and Hip-Hop and arrived at a crossroads, a challenge.

-Paul Ayo

During the event children and adults were encouraged to work on a collaborative arts piece where each individual designed a single letter of the words community, service, and peace. After all the letters were designed the words were displayed as the backdrop for the performers. This project really spoke to us, and we hope to host a similar collaborative project in the future. You can take a look at the video below to get a full explanation.

The finished product.

There was good energy and great vibes at the event, and we hope to visit Athens in the future. Keep Shuttin’ it Down in your Communities

GoodSearch for A.A.C.










Art as an Agent for Change recently entered a partnership with Goodsearch is a Yahoo powered search engine that provides money saving coupons to GoodSearch users and donates half of its advertising revenue, to the charitable organization of your choice.

Just download the GoodSearch – Art as an Agent for Change toolbar HERE.

Each time you search the web with GoodSearch’s Yahoo-powered search engine, about a penny will go to the charity you designate.

Also, every time you shop online at 2,000 participating stores including Target, Apple, Staples, Expedia, etc., a percentage of your purchase will be donated for free! The site also has thousands of money-saving coupons!

GoodSearch and GoodShop on ABC News

Now, you can help A.A.C. by logging onto the web and searching for your favorite sites.

There are also a few added perks for GoodSearching the net. When you download the GoodSearch Toolbar you also have the option to Goodshop. is a new online shopping mall which donates up to 30 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause! Hundreds of great stores including Target, Gap, Best Buy, Macy’s and Amazon have teamed up with GoodShop and every time you place an order, you’ll be supporting your favorite cause.

We’ll admit, we were looking for the “catch” when we began to research becoming a GoodSearch charity. We discovered that GoodSearch and GoodShop are free services and there are no gimmicks.

You can start GoodSearching for A.A.C. by visiting this LINK and downloading the GoodSearch toolbar. It works just like all other toolbars, except this time, you get great discounts at your favorite retailers and you can help charitable organizations like, Art as an Agent for Change.

Happy Searching!

P.S. Save the Date. A.A.C. GoodShop Weekend is August 5-7.

A.A.C. Visits the Living Walls Carnival

A.A.C. is always on the lookout for artists seeking to deepen the impact that art provides for our world. This past weekend A.A.C Founder/Director Paul Ayo had the opportunity to meet-up with a group of Atlanta artists from Dodekapus and Living Walls. The meeting took place at a Carnival that served as a benefit for the upcoming Living Walls Conference on Street Art and Urbanism.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Monica Campana, Coordinator of Atlanta’s Living Walls Conference. We also had the chance to speak with a founding member of Dodekapus, Melanka Joy. You can check out their vid below.

(Photo: Monica Campana, Living Walls Organizer)

Living Walls brings artists from all over the world to Atlanta to create Street Art and host discussions on the impact of public art and how it’s reshaping urban space. This year’s Living Walls Conference is scheduled to take place August 12-14 in Atlanta, Ga. You can check out the Living Walls website HERE if you’d like to learn more about the conference.

It was awesome to see two arts organizations collaborating to build a strong community centered effort in Atlanta, GA. Emily Fisher, Living Walls and Dodekapus supporter said, “Living Walls highlights arts in the city, building more respect for street art.” She also mentioned, “Dodekapus has been extra supportive… without them, it [Living Walls] wouldn’t happen.”

(Photo: Melanka Joy, Founding Member Dodekapus and Paul Ayo, Exec Director A.A.C.)

In addition to posing in a really cool wig, I also had the opportunity to bump into some really cool people. I’ll let them tell you a little about themselves and the Carnival.

Collaboration is one of the pillars of A.A.C. and we couldn’t resist the urge to agree to volunteer for the Living Walls Conference this August 12-14. ATL, get ready for a Shutdown!

Your Passion Linked to Purpose: A Call for Submissions

Art as an Agent for Change is shuttin’ it down with another edition of the Shutdown Magazine. In order to make this issue a success, we need your photos, still images of your visual art, poetry, short stories, and testimonies about your efforts to make a difference using your artistic passion.

Submit your unpublished work to us at The submission deadline is May 31, 2011.

We’ll update you when we receive your work and let you know if you made it into the mag.

The Shutdown is A.A.C.’s arts and activism magazine that exists to:
1. Encourage adolescent and adult literacy.
2. Connect our contributors to the literary wealth of the world.
3. Advocate social uplift through education and the arts.

Your contribution to the magazine will help us tell the story of the collective movement to reshape the world through our artistic collaboration and connections.

You can check out our first issue here: Shutdown Magazine Spring 2011
Like our Facebook page here: Shut it Down!
Subscribe or leave a comment below!

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